Some Mass. Doctors Accept Zohydro Restrictions

Reaction continues to Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s new controls around the drug Zohydro. Although a court last week overturned his ban of the extended release painkiller, he issued restrictions on doctors who prescribe it — including a mandatory risk assessment of each patient.

Zohydro contains only the ingredient hydrocodone – unlike many other painkillers that are mixed with acetaminophen. That means it’s less likely to be toxic to the liver over time, but critics say it also packs a stronger, potentially addictive punch. Gary Kerr is chief pharmacist at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield. He says so far Baystate doctors have not complained about Governor Patrick’s efforts to restrict the drug’s use.

“Typically when there’s a blockbuster product available,” he says,  “the pharmacy’s inundated from phone calls from doctors and patients saying, can we get it on the formulary and we want it stocked in pharmacies and so forth.”

But Kerr says doctors recognize the dangers of Zohydro — and would rather err on the side of caution, especially since its long-acting behavior makes the anti-overdose drug Naloxone less effective. Zogenix, the company that makes Zohydro, claims the governor is unfairly singling out its product — which was approved by the  FDA.